Downton, D-Day, Dahl and the Great Detectives | Travel Research Online


Downton, D-Day, Dahl and the Great Detectives

I’m always on the look-out for new ways of looking at your old friend Britain and this week’s edition spotlights 7 imaginative ideas that will delight adults and families alike and generate valuable extra profit for the innovative travel planner.

On Location with Downton Abbey leads the way and it’s followed by the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of D Day. There’s a neat idea for Roald Dahl fans, some incredible edibles in Clovelly and if your clients can travel a little further into the world of Doc Martin, Poldark, King Arthur and Lorna Doone you will also see some tasty foodie reasons for adding the attractive North Devon to your itineraries in England’s West Country.

There’s an intriguing Children’s Literature tour suggestion for July and August and for niche marketeers, you’ll spot the potential in the British Ceramics Biennial in the World Capital of Ceramics. For those interested in converting much-loved TV series like Poirot and Miss Marple into see it, touch it reality, your little grey cells will start buzzing with September’s Agatha Christie Festival.

Downton Abbey Discovered

This hugely popular TV series may no longer be the main reason for staying on a Sunday evening but a deep affection for the show still lingers on. Instead of offering fans a day trip to Highclere Castle when it opens between 7th July and 3rd September, extend it to a 3-night driver guided fiction into reality tour which includes a visit to a stately home which will give them a very good impression of just what life was like ‘below stairs’. The rest of the itinerary includes leisurely visits to other important must see On Location sites.


The Flagship Of Maritime England

This year, we’re marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day and Portsmouth makes a great base for a tour which includes leisurely visits to HMS Victory and the Mary Rose in the Historic Dockyard and an hour or two at the D Day Museum, home to the Overlord Embroidery which tells the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in 34 extraordinary hand-stitched panels with a total length of 83 metres. Check out A Study in Sherlock in the city Museum which explores the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and visit his final resting place at All Saints Church, Minstead which dates from the 13th century.

James’s Peachy Summer

Here’s a great package for families who are Roald Dahl fans. It starts in Oxford with a Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland tour and can include the Philip Pullman tour mentioned in the Oxford Literary Landscapes tour below before discovering James and the Giant Peach at the Roald Dahl Museum. Situated in the village where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years, a visit can be timed to coincide with workshops on Whizzbang Words or Peachy Science, and before reaching London, we can organise a visit to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios Tour on the way back into London.

Quentin Blake 2019

© Guy Harrop

Clovelly’s Maritime Festival

The picturesque, cliff-side village of Clovelly’s Lifeboat and Maritime Festival is on 3rd-4th August and includes the thrilling Clovelly Cup Yacht Race. On the harbour quayside there will be stalls selling delicious food and the entertainment includes live music, stilt entertainers, storytelling, traditional Punch and Judy, face painting and lifeboat displays. Clovelly’s county of North Devon has more Michelin star restaurants than Cornwall and hosts the best Chippy, Marmalade and chocolate makers in Britain. With Sri Lankan curry on the beach and fresh oysters on Instow’s beach there are some real joys to get stuck into. Follow the North Devon Food Trail.

Oxford’s Literary Landscapes

In this tour of your bookshelf, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour in the university city of Oxford. For Philip Pullman fans, you can discover the world of His Dark Materials and explore the setting of the new The Book of Dust series. It then joins forces with Sir Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace and Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s superb collection of art treasures at Waddesdon Manor. Added interest comes from leisurely visits to Jane Austen’s home at Chawton and her burial place in spectacular Winchester Cathedral. You might consider adding this to 2-3 days at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath (13th to 22nd of September 2019).


The British Ceramics Biennial

This major celebration returns to the World Capital of Ceramics aka. Stoke on Trent, its spiritual home from 7th September to 13th October 2019. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the international festival will bring together more than 300 contemporary artists in a vibrant programme of exhibitions, installations and events in different venues across the city. Easily accessible with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando, talk to your contacts at ceramics museums/galleries and pottery class tutors. They’ll probably know it’s happening and they’re waiting for you to tell them how to get there and back!

The Great Detectives

In the next few days, I’ll have the programme details for this year’s Agatha Christie Festival on the English Riviera. She was born in Torquay in 1890 and lived there for much of her life. As a result of her love of Torbay and extensive knowledge of the area, many of her books were either set locally, such as And Then There Were None, or inspired by the surrounding Devon scenery. Taking place between 12th-15th September, start thinking about clients who would like to attend after three On Location Oxford/Cotswolds days following in the footsteps of Endeavour, Morse, Lewis, Father Brown, Angela Raisin, finish with Sherlock Holmes in London.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at or email him at

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